I’ll admit that I’m a little bit of a nerd at heart, so I get some small satisfaction in analyzing data, but I don’t love that “beauty brands have an average of just 29 percent female leadership across their boards and executive teams”. What?? That’s not the kind of data that gets me excited. Although I’d love to see skincare and makeup become more inclusive of male consumers, I naively found it shocking that an industry largely catered towards women is dominated by men. According to the Global Cosmetic Industry, the U.S. beauty sector is estimated to be worth $90 billion by 2020, and I personally think that women should have a bigger slice of that pie considering we’re the ones by and large funding it.
After learning this eye-opening fact, I’ve been giving some more thought to the products I choose to purchase and the brands behind them. I shared a little bit about this in my recent Spring Skincare Update, but I wanted to devote an entire post to the topic because it’s something I feel so passionately about. I know it’s the least sexy side of the beauty industry, but I don’t think ethics and business are discussed often enough in the beauty blogging community. The drama around Deciem has certainly shaken things up a bit, and I’ve seen more and more bloggers refusing to support the brand because of the toxic workplace culture and the erratic, rude behavior from founder Brandon Truaxe. Other topics like lack of shade diversity in foundations and influencer representation have also become mainstream points of conversation in recent months. I feel that as a part of this community it’s important to lift up brands that are built on honesty, integrity, and inclusion.
If you know me, you probably know that female entrepreneurship is a huge passion of mine. I don’t personally run my own business (unless you count this blog I guess), but I love hearing the stories of women who start their own companies. It hit me recently that I wasn’t really putting my money where my mouth was. You know that phrase “talk the talk, walk the walk”? Well, I wasn’t walking the walk. I devoured content about these female founders, but I wasn’t actually buying their products. I almost exclusively buy my jewelry from independent makers, but I had never even considered doing that with skincare before.
Like a lot of people, I do most of my beauty shopping at Sephora. I love that Sephora actively supports female founders in the beauty industry with their Accelerate program which is a bootcamp-like program about business and branding fundamentals specifically designed for women starting their own businesses. Their consumer-facing initiative Scouted by Sephora, isn’t necessarily specific to women-owned brands, but it does feature innovative up-and-coming brands often started by women. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Scouted by Sephora program it’s that there are tons of brands creating amazing products with equally amazing brand stories that don’t get enough attention. While Sephora is doing a great job bringing new brands to the masses, I don’t think we should wait around for Sephora to do it for us. I want to get out there and find these products myself!
Every single one of us has the ability to use our small influence and purchasing power to create the change we want to see by supporting brands we believe in. As a blogger who regularly shares product recommendations I feel it’s important to whole-heartedly back the products I share.
All that being said, here are some brands I’ve tried that I’d like to spotlight, plus a few more that I can’t wait to try next!
Brands I've Tried
I recently discovered this brand when I was looking for a natural deodorant (that actually works). The Agent Nateur No. 3 deodorant came as a recommendation from none other than Emma Watson in her Into the Gloss interview, so I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I ordered it recently from Dermstore and they sent the Holi(oil) Refining Youth Serum instead for some reason. After looking into the oil and the brand as a whole I figured I might as well try it out! The brand’s founder Jena Covello set out initially to make herself an aluminum-free deodorant better than anything on the market, and after succeeding her line has only grown to include five different deodorant scents as well as a few more SKUs. I think I may have to place another order and actually get the deodorant this time!
Best Selling Products: Holi(Rose) No 4 Deodorant, Holi(oil) Refining Youth Serum, Holi(c)
Since I got my first one about a year ago, I almost exclusively use a Beautyblender to apply my foundation. I find that it gives a much more smooth, flawless look than traditional brushes. The creator of this fresh take on traditional beauty sponges, Rhea Ann Silva, learned the importance of a perfectly blended base firsthand when she worked as a makeup artist on the set of one of the first television shows to go HD. After repeatedly cutting up sponges she decided a multi-use sponge with no edges would be exactly what she needed, so Beautyblender was born!
Best Selling Products: The Original Beautyblender, Beautyblender Pro
The Caudalie Beauty Elixir is the best facial spray I’ve ever tried. Apparently one is sold every 30 seconds! The French brand is known for creating that coveted glow, and makeup artists everywhere rely on it. I really enjoyed the Breaking Beauty Podcast interview with Caudalie’s founder Mathilde Thomas because she has that polished French vibe that makes you want to try everything she talks about. Her products also use the antioxidant power of grapes and wine so what’s not to like?
Best Selling Products: Beauty Elixir, Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet
Krave Beauty has a relatively slim product line with only two products so far, but the brand’s mission is great. Beauty influencer Liah Yoo created the line as a simplistic but effective range to cleanse the skin without disturbing its natural pH. If you’re interested in the brand, check out my full review of the Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser!
Best Selling Products: Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser, Kale-Lalu-YAHA
Even if you aren’t familiar with her name you most likely know of Kristin Ess from the long list of celebrities who get their hair styled at her salon including Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale. I personally love following her on Instagram for inspiration and occasional tips. She started selling her eponymous line at Target last year, and has even added a few more products to the line this spring. Now that I’ve gotten into blow drying my hair I’m definitely going to have to try more of her texturizing sprays.
Best Selling Products: Kristin Ess Weightless Shine, Frizz Management Cleansing Conditioner
I discovered Pestle & Mortar while searching for an alternative to my beloved hyaluronic acid serum from The Ordinary. Of course I turned to Caroline Hirons who recommended this hyaluronic acid! After I looked into the brand a little bit more I knew I wanted to give it a try. Pestle & Mortar was founded by Sonia Deasy a single mother of five after she noticed the dull, dry faces of her husband’s photography clients. She enlisted her sister who just happens to have a degree in biochemistry, and Pestle & Mortar began!
Best Selling Products: Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Hydrate Moisturizer, Recover Eye Cream
Naturally, a lot women create products that they themselves want to use, and after having some health issues as a result of working in the cosmetics industry that’s exactly what RMS Beauty creator Rose-Marie Swift did. She created her all-organic line of makeup and skincare. For one of the first in the clean makeup lines, the packaging is chic and the products hit the mark every time. I personally love using the Living Luminizer as my everyday highlighter!
Best Selling Products: Living Luminizer, “Un” Cover Up, Lip2Cheek
This one is another well-known name if you’re into the YouTube beauty scene. In 2009, blogger and YouTuber Zoe Sugg began creating content about her life ranging from beauty products to Primark hauls. Over the years she has exploded in popularity and even began her own beauty line in 2014. The products are mostly catered towards bath and body products as that’s what Zoe herself seems to love the most. I actually love this because bath and body products were the first beauty products I feel in love with.
Best Selling Products: Scooper Dooper, Shower Shake, Bath Latte
5 Brands I Want to Try
I definitely want to try Beauty Counter because there seems to be a big focus on calming and hydrating products. Also, I haven’t seen anyone talking about it, but I really like the sound of the Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage (plus, it won an Allure beauty award) The founder Gregg Rendrew was inspired to create her own line of clean beauty products after having kids and realizing that the mainstream products may not have been as safe as she thought. Over the past five years the line has grown to include skincare, makeup, and bath and body products.
Best Selling Products: Cleansing Balm, No. 3 Balancing Face Mask, No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil
Daughter of the Land is another organic line focused primarily on body oils. Ashley Spierer created the brand in 2013 after deciding she wanted to simplify the beauty products in her routine. She felt like products made from single ingredients were just as effective as the others with long lists of ingredients. I also like that not only is the product itself fair-trade and organic, but the entire brand is dedicated to sustainability.
Best Selling Products: Balancing Oil, Hydrating Oil, Moisture Oil
Most of the Indie Lee products look amazing, but I really want to try the brightening cleanser or the reship cleanser. At the time I discovered the brand I had just picked up the Krave cleanser so I didn’t want to double up before we move. Once we get to Austin though and I run out of my Krave cleanser I’m definitely giving one of these a try!
Best Selling Products: Indie Lee Moisturizing Oil, Indie Lee Calendula Eye Balm, Indie Lee Blemish Lotion
May Lindstrom is definitely on the pricier side, but the quality seems to match from what I've seen. It's a truly luxury brand in the all-natural skincare world. I was first introduced to May Lindstrom in Estée Lalonde’s recent green beauty video, but some of my other favorite YouTubers have also been singing the brand's praise. May is familiar with the beauty industry having been a model and makeup artist herself, but she's been dubbed a skin guru after creating the line right at home in her kitchen. The products are all about treating your skin and mind to a calming ritual which seems right up my alley. I just need a special occasion to splurge on the products (most likely in the distant future).
Best Selling Products: The Blue Cocoon, The Youth Dew, The Problem Solver
I find the concept of Tula super interesting because the whole focus of the line is that all the products are made with topical probiotics. The trendy dietary supplement has been transformed into skincare, by Dr. Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist. She aims to make women feel balanced and beautiful, and I don't know about you but I'm always looking to add a little balance to my life!
Best Selling Products: Probiotic Purifying Face Cleanser, Hydrating Day & Night Cream, Pro-Glycolic 10% PH Resurfacing Gel
Before I end this long post, I would be remiss not to mention the cost. Often, these smaller, independent brands charge more for their products than mass produced drugstore options, but in my opinion it’s a small price to pay for supporting brands you believe in. If you just can’t afford it, I totally understand that as well and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if it’s something you think you can budget in, I highly recommend it! I would love to do some more searching for budget-friendly options that fit this category as well. Maybe a future post idea? Over time I’d love to build more in-depth reviews of these brands or another round up post like this once I’ve tried some new things.